But as important as it is to find a recruiter you like, the recruiter needs to like you, too, according to Shawn Banerji, a member of the Information Officers and Business and Professional Services Practice at executive IT recruiting firm Russell Reynolds Associates. And there are plenty of things you can do -- knowingly or unknowingly -- to sour that relationship.
"If you're going to establish a partnership or relationship with a recruiter, it needs to be with someone you're comfortable working with," he said. "A good relationship can be easy to screw up."
Here's a look at five notorious actions that can quickly hurt your recruiter-client relationship.
1. You Don't Disclose Everything.
Banerji recalls working with a divisional CIO from a Fortune 200 company who had been there for 12 or 13 years and was at an inflection point. The company had hired an enterprise CIO from the outside and planned to outsource the IT capability. The CIO knew it was time to move on, and he wanted Banerji's help.
"He told me everything -- his situation, his view of the company, and he was very honest about everything with me. I was appreciative of that honesty and candor, and I responded in that same frank and candid manner," Banerji said. "Had he not disclosed everything up front, I would have assumed he was self-serving and may not have been able to trust him."
Banerji said it's important for job seekers to be frank about everything from the beginning, whether you're about to act on another job offer, whether a position isn't of interest to you and what your true compensation requirements are. "Otherwise," he explained, "it simply becomes a transaction where the recruiter views you as a commodity, and you don't want that. This is a competitive business, and it's important to have an open and honest conversation about everything."
2. You Lie or Embellish Details -- Big or Small.
Banerji compares what's happening at the IT executive level to sports professionals: "The stakes have gotten so high -- the compensation, the prestige of these jobs -- that the pressure can cause people to be less than forthcoming or honest," he said.
The pressure to land these jobs causes a surprising number of candidates to list competencies on their resume they may not actually have, he said, or to claim an academic record or degree they didn't earn. "People don't realize the amount of information recruiters have on them," Banerji said. "If their information doesn't sync up with what I know is a fact, this is a person I can't move forward with. We corroborate everything."
An open line of communication is a good and necessary part of your relationship with your recruiter, Banerji said. But sometimes candidates can become overzealous and abuse that privilege.
"You don't need to call me because you've stubbed your toe, but if you have your foot wedged under a lawn mower, please call me immediately," Banerji said. "I don't mind if you drop me an email or text me a question every now and then. If we have a good, trusted relationship, that's perfectly fine. But don't email or text me just for the sake of staying in touch."
4. You Expect Too Much.
Working with multiple recruiters can be a necessary part of the job hunt, Banerji said, and recruiters understand this. But problems can arise if you expect all your recruiters to treat you as if you're their only client.
"I had one senior-level guy call me for career advice, and there was no such thing as a short conversation with him," Banerji said. "But then I learned that he was having this same conversation with four other recruiters. When that happens, you won't get as much out of me."
Banerji acknowledges that you can have relationships with a number of people, but there's always going to be one who suits you best and with whom you have that trusted advisor relationship. That's the person you should have these serious conversations with, he said.
5. You Don't Give Back.
Your relationship with your recruiter needs to be a two-way street, Banerji said. It's fine to email your recruiter with requests, but when your recruiter does the same to you, be prepared to follow up.
"We try our best to meet your requests, within reason," Banerji said. "But when we do the same, we don't want to be ignored. We don't expect you to reply to our emails immediately or answer our phone calls immediately, but within a reasonable time period. Again, it all comes back to the good relationship and level of respect we have for each other."